Saturday, January 7, 2012

10.) Modern Music - Brad Mehldau & Kevin Hays (Top Jazz Picks '11)

Modern Music
Brad Mehldau, Kevin Hays & Patrick Zimmerli
Nonesuch Records.

Having purchased my share of lame ducks this year, I’ve learned that few solo piano albums grow to become universally heralded. Whether it’s the minimalist nature of the project or a matter of listener preferences, I can’t say, but only a handful of records have ever risen from the pack. So it’s fitting that my first year of jazz ends with a meeting of two jazz-pianists; Modern Music pits former classmates Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays into both new and classic compositions – some classical, some jazz.

Quelling any fears that this project too will evaporate into monotonous background music is first track ‘Crazy Quilt’, a rambunctious hint toward the duo’s heedless energy. Composer Patrick Zimmerli oversees subsequent performances that cover Philip Glass, Ornette Coleman and Steve Reich with equal doses of drama and flair. A late addition to this list, Modern Music bridges my burgeoning interest in two like-minded genres.

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